Of 247 Alco PAs built for American railroads, only four examples survive. These four are all former Santa Fe units that were rebuilt by Morrison-Knutsen for the Delaware & Hudson in 1975. In 1978, the four went to Ferrocarriles Nacionales de Mexico. In 1981, FNM DH-16 (ex-D&H 16, nee ATSF 59L) was seriously damaged in a derailment and sidelined at the Empalme shops as a parts source. DH-18 (D&H 18, nee Santa Fe 62L) also suffered some failure and was also put in the dead lines to be stripped, but had no significant structural damage. DH-17 and DH-19 remained operational, and eventually wound up at the Museo Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Mexicanos (Mexican National Railroad Museum) in Puebla.
In early 2000, a combined effort between the Smithsonian Institution and Doyle McCormack (of SP 4449 fame) brought the stripped shells of DH-16 and DH-18 back to US soil. Both were essentially gutted, and neither came with real PA trucks. Doyle got DH-18 for restoration, and the Smithsonian got DH-16. Their intention was to cosmetically restore the unit as Santa Fe 59L, its original number. However, the engine sat for a decade on a siding outside Lebanon, OR, without progress. Late in 2010, the Smithsonian announced they'd donated the hulk to the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco, TX.
On March 30, two flat cars - one loaded with the body, the other with the trucks - left Albany, OR, for their new Texas home. BNSF 585243, the flat with the trucks, made it through without much issue. BNSF 585184 and the body, however, have suffered a number of hangups in transit including being bad-ordered in Laurel, MT, and then again in Denver on Sunday. The load finally made it out of Denver on Tuesday's (19 Apr 2011) M-DENAMS-19, just behind BNSF warbonnet 669 and two UP motors. (Strangely, the two passed over the Joint Line on their trip back from Mexico almost exactly eleven years ago, moving north on 12 Apr 2000 right behind the power of BNSF's M-ABQDEN3-11.)
Alerted by a post on Trainorders.com by "locohntr", I shot out of work with the camera and caught up with the train at Tomah Road, about halfway between Castle Rock and Larkspur. Variable weather (everything from clear to windy, with combinations of rain, drizzle, and sleet balls) and light didn't stop about a half-dozen or so fans out chasing it. I followed it from Tomah to downtown Colorado Springs, and managed to get shots from all four corners.
As a counterpoint of what money, spare parts, and countless dedicated volunteer hours can do, Doyle's PA is now in wonderful shape and nearing operational status. It's being restored as NKP 190, the first diesel engine he got to ride in with his father (an NKP engineer). Photos and history on his restoration can be found at www.nkp190.com. Hopefully the museum in Texas can do as nice of a cosmetic job with DH-16.
Also, I thought I should add - while I can't find any particular photographs of ATSF 59L working passenger trains over the Joint Line, there are others that show other PAs working the Centennial State between Denver and Kansas City. So it's entirely possible that 59L did revenue service over these rails at some point.
Date: 04 Apr 2011
Size: 14 items